Pakistan International Airline has decided to induct 4 new aircraft in its fleet from June 2019. In a tender published today the airline has invited bids for 4 aircraft with 150 plus seats in two class configuration from June onwards. PIA in the past has used Airbus A320 and Boeing 787-800 aircraft on wet lease. Its narrow body fleet only consists of Airbus A320 aircraft.
Just like past, these aircraft will be brought in on a wet lease basis as a stop-gap solution. PIA has already published a tender for wide body and narrow body aircraft to comply with PPRA Rules. The aircraft should not be older than 12 years as per NAP 2015. The lease term will be six months maximum also restricted by NAP 2015.
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Just like the previous acting CEO Saqib Aziz ordered requirement of 4 aircraft on a wet lease but the management then disagreed with this. The airline failed to capitalise on the increased demand in the market after the disappearance of Shaheen Air from the International and domestic market and take advantage of this.
PIA engineering time and again has forced the management by telling them that the fleet utilisation is stretching the fleet and there is a shortage of aircraft that can disrupt the schedule. Although the engineering failed to uprise the management about their plans to sort the grounded fleet. Currently, 4 PIA planes are grounded, putting the pressure on its working fleet and engineering has failed to address this issue miserably in the past 6 months.
The biggest question still remains that how long it will take to get these aircraft in the fleet and if there will be any demand left in the market by then. The previous management of Musharaf Rasool Cyan was almost on the verge of inducting Airbus A330 aircraft in the fleet to enhance the Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok routes. These A330s were also supposed to be deployed on new routes like Guangzhou, but typically with the management departure, the plan goes on the back burner.
The most important question is that PIA’s engineering is in dire straits and currently the situation is there are multiple planes stuck without parts while the management has decided to get aircraft on lease. It was high time if they decided to spend the money on sorting out their current fleet rather than going after an easy solution.
But PIA is almost back to where it moved during the period of Musharraf Rasool Cyan who improved the utilisation of fleet and managed the schedules without the 4 wet-leased aircraft including the busy Hajj period.